Prominent leaders speak at Malibu’s State of the City address

The Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce held the State of the City Address at the new Santa Monica College Malibu Campus on Wednesday, May 3. Photo by Samantha Bravo.

Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce stages multi-speaker event featuring mayor, county supervisor

Malibu Mayor Bruce Silverstein and other dignitaries acknowledged accomplishments and challenges in a celebratory State of the City address May 3 at the Santa Monica College Malibu campus.

LASD Sheriff’s Capt. Jennifer Seetoo was warmly received and spoke about new initiatives to decrease crime.

Another featured speaker, LA County 3rd District Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, took the opportunity to alleviate some fear of residents concerned about housing juvenile offenders at Campus Kilpatrick just outside Malibu city limits. 

“Our juvenile justice system is in a state of crisis. We are failing young people and are urgently making changes to make sure our facilities are better equipped to provide the shelter, education and wraparound supportive services that people entrusted to our care truly need to change their life trajectory,” she said. “Campus Kilpatrick, created before my time, intended to be a model as a care-first juvenile justice system with a therapeutic service-rich environment with specially trained staff. Young people selected for Campus Kilpatrick would go through a rigorous selection process with a focus on reentry. I am clear that what you may read or hear about who is at Campus Kilpatrick can cause confusion at best and concern.”

Horvath stated there are currently 20 offenders at Campus Kilpatrick with approximately 54 staff when the requirement is only a one-to-one ratio. This is to “ensure safety of both the young people and the staff,” she said. “This is not going to change in the near term. Any changes that do happen to Campus Kilpatrick will come in partnership with the Malibu community and making sure we’ve communicated with you directly.”

The supervisor cited homelessness as another urgent concern touting her first motion declaring a state of emergency on homelessness to expedite hiring mental health workers. It typically takes more than a year to get hired, which the supervisor called “absolutely unacceptable when we see the mental health crisis on our streets.” Horvath then thanked all the business leaders in attendance for helping to keep Malibu businesses open during what’s been a difficult time for many in retail.

In his remarks, Silverstein reminded that in 1991 “Malibu became a city to fend off the continued mass development that’s emblematic of most coastal cities in southern California.” Then addressing Horvath he commented, “I really liked everything you said except for one thing. The residents of Malibu, at least as I perceive it, don’t view this place as a driver of economics from visitors. We welcome visitors, but we’re not here about making money from tourism. Unlike most tourist attraction areas in the country, that’s not what we’re about here. That’s one of the misperceptions that we strive to clear up. Driving economics through visitors and tourist dollars is such a large part of the goal of many places. It’s not here. We’re not Anaheim.”

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Malibu Mayor Bruce Silverstein. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Silverstein continued that despite the proximity to Los Angeles “the residents of Malibu have fought to maintain the area’s natural beauty and rural tranquility” while some visitors “view our city as a natural theme park of sorts.” It’s hard to do, he said, “when you serve as a destination for 15 million people while 10,000 live here.

“Malibu is the object of a constant battle between residents who seek to preserve and protect the environment and developers and special interests that seek to profit from the exploitation of Malibu.”

The mayor noted an “engaged community” that has “no hesitation telling us what we can do better.” He called Malibu residents “custodians, not owners” of the area’s natural resources. 

And Silverstein reiterated a commitment by the city to help every resident displaced by the Woolsey Fire to return home. He cited the transient occupancy tax from short-term rentals for helping to boost Malibu’s economy, adding, “That’s not exactly one of the ways we want to fuel our economy, but it did nonetheless.”

Alluding to past drama on the City Council and the election of two new councilmembers, Silverstein stated “it has resulted in a more congenial atmosphere, which is more conducive to getting things done.”

City staff that works to get things done was acknowledged by City Manager Steve McClary, who presented a film touting Malibu’s latest accomplishments including a school safety assessment, review to improve building and planning functions, employee recruitment and retention, a balanced budget with strong fiscal management, and enhancing public safety among other initiatives.